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HRT decline linked to breast cancer reduction

Friday February 13th, 2009

Growing numbers of women are being spared the misery of breast cancer following a decline in the use of hormone replacement therapy, according to new figures published today.

Rates of diagnosis for women over the age of 50 fell between five and nine per cent in 2005 - following revelations about the side effects of HRT.

According to researchers from Cancer Research UK, which compiles the statistics, the number of women under 60 receiving prescriptions for HRT halved between 2000 and 2006 - to fewer than 20 per cent.

Breast cancer rates in women over 50 have been increasing for the last 30 years until 2005.

Professor Max Parkin of Cancer Research UK explains that many women have turned away from HRT after research suggested that it may increase breast cancer risk.

He said: "Between 1996 and 2000 we estimate that hormone replacement therapy use was responsible for an additional breast cancer risk of around 30 per cent to UK women in their 50s. But since 2000 there has been a striking decline in the estimated excess risk of breast cancer in all age groups.

"Between 1999 and 2005 the risk to women in their 50s dropped by 14 per cent which represents 1,400 fewer cases in 2005 than would have been expected if HRT use had remained unchanged.

"We cannot be absolutely sure that the drop in both breast cancer rates and breast cancer risk is the direct result of women giving up hormone replacement therapy. But the parallel is striking and it will be interesting to see if this decline continues over the next few years."

Dr Lesley Walker of Cancer Research UK commented: "It is very positive to learn that incidence of this distressing disease among women in their 50s is levelling off. Women should only take hormone replacement therapy for medical reasons and for as short a time as possible."

Tags: Cancer | UK News | Women’s Health & Gynaecology

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